For two consecutive years Olympian Fabian Cancellara has won the opening stage of cycling's Tour of California, where crowds on Saturday rivalled the Tour de France.
"I'm for sure happy," said the Swiss racer who in August 2008 won gold and bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics. "It was the perfect day. With this crowd, it gave me the final motivation to win."
Cancellara, who averaged 50.3km/h on the 3.9km course near Sacramento, beat defending race champion Levi Leipheimer by two seconds to win the first stage of nine in four minutes, 32.9 seconds.
Leipheimer took second, followed by David Zabriskie of the United States, who finished three seconds behind.
The field of 136 riders was filled with some of cycling's biggest names, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who finished the stage tenth with a time of four minutes, 37.17 seconds.
On Sunday the race enters a difficult 108-mile stage (173.8km) from Davis to Santa Rosa in California's hilly wine country.
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